Saturday, October 22, 2011

Write What's On Your Mind at Occupy Atlanta

Posted by Deirdre Oakley, WOODRUFF PARK, ATLANTA, GA – Occupy Atlanta just finished up an usually cold, windy, and wet second week of peaceful occupation, and with it came a collection of written stories from participants and passersby. The stories are on a six-by-six feet section of wooden fence posts erected by the organizers against a tree in the middle of the encampment. Different colors of Sharpies are neatly placed at the top of the fence so people without such writing material on hand get a chance to pen what’s on their mind. And given the spirit of the movement, it shouldn’t be surprising that no one is putting the Sharpies in their pocket. The fence has filled up quickly with an eclectic mix of heart wrenching stories, various symbols, political and “I am here” statements, as well as a few entries that really aren’t very serious. But there is a common thread throughout the writings of dissatisfaction and disillusionment with our economic and political systems, sentiments that are certainly legitimate. Atlanta’s Mayor Kasim Reed recently announced that he would not seek to remove participants until November 7, so Occupy Atlanta organizers will probably need more fence posts to accommodate all the stories to come. While I haven’t written mine yet, I took pictures of others...

And then there's the future stories of the Occupy participants -- some of whom are homeless, some without jobs, some in high school whose parents can no longer afford to send them to college, and some currently in college without much hope for getting a decent paying job upon graduation. So something really does have to change for these and other futures to turn out better.

Deirdre Oakley is the Editor of Social Shutter and an Associate Professor of Sociology at Georgia State University. She can be contacted at For more on Occupy Atlanta, log on to our Facebook page.

Update – 10/22/2011 – 11pm: Earlier this afternoon an Atlanta Mobile Police Command unit showed up at Woodruff Park with Mayor Kasim Reed in it. Apparently this was in response to a Hip Hop concert being held in the park near the Occupy Atlanta encampment whose organizers had not obtained the proper permit from the city. News reports say that a meeting between the Mayor and Occupy Atlanta’s leader,Tim Franzen, was held in the mobile unit where the Mayor demanded that both the Hip Hop and Occupy Atlanta participants vacate the park. The Hip Hop concert abruptly ended and the audience left. Then Occupy Atlanta organizers announced that the Mayor had rescinded his Nov 7 deadline. No one left and nothing happened. Well, except that city workers removed the porta potties installed by direction of the Mayor two weeks ago. Much later this evening an announcement came from the Mayor’s office stating that the Nov 7 deadline had not changed. However, there is currently a much heavier police presence in and around the park than before.

Update -- 10/24/11 -- 11:37pm: Mayor Reed just revoked the Nov 7 deadline citing the illegal Hip Hop concert held in the park on Saturday. He said that Occupy participants would be forced out 'at the time of his choosing'. Police barricades have now been put up, but passersby can still walk through the park. We can't get there until tomorrow with our cameras. But we will give our 'cameras blogging community' update when we get there. Hopefully we will not be too late...

Update – 10/26/2011 – 11am: The Occupy participants were reluctantly but peacefully removed from the park around 1:30am. About 50 participants were arrested and are currently being arraigned in court. The police build up yesterday was slow, meticulous, and very professional. It began around 4pm. The military-grade helicopter constantly circling over head was really unnecessary and very loud. By 8pm it was clear that something was going to happen because the police began blocking off one of the streets by the park and telling the media to move their vans. Then people just waited until an order to vacate the park was announced over an official city PA system around 11pm and the police moved in. We'll devote this week's post to the last day of Occupy Atlanta.

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